Russian airline rules out technical fault, pilot error in Egypt crash

Russian airline Metrojet rules out technical fault and pilot error in the first news conference following fatal aircraft crash.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (NOVEMBER 2, 2015) (REUTERS) – The Russian airline whose jet crashed in Egypt killing everyone on board said on Monday (November 2) the crash could not have been caused by a technical fault or human error.

The crash, in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday (October 31), could only have been the result of some other “technical or physical action” which caused it to break up in the air and plummet to the ground, said Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of the airline Kogalymavia, which also trades under the name Metrojet.

“There are no such faults, like engine failure, system failure, there is no such combination of systems failure, that could lead to a plane breaking up in air. Yes, under a tragic multi-level contingency when several systems fail along with some other accompanying factors, that indeed could lead to a catastrophe. But in that case the aircraft would break up through hitting the ground. Aircraft cannot break up in the air because of a failure of any systems,” Smirnov told a news conference in Moscow.

“That is why the only possible explanation for a break up of the aircraft in the air could be a certain impact, some mechanical or physical impact,” he added.

He did not specify what that action might have been, saying it was up to the official investigation to determine.

“There is information available from LiveRadar programme and it is valid. According to that programme, in less than a minute the aircraft dropped speed by more that 300 kilometres per hour with a simultaneous drop in altitude of 1,5 kilometres. Those are not the conditions a plane can fly under, especially a big plane, big passenger plane. What it points to is that the plane was not flying but falling down,” said Smirnov.

He said there had been no emergency call from the pilots to services on the ground during the flight, which took off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and was bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg.

“The reason why the plane stopped flying and started falling was probably, as asked in the previous question, was the fact that by that time the plane suffered significant constructional damage that didn’t allow it to continue flying. Perhaps, because of this, at that same moment, the moment of that tragic situation starting to develop, the crew totally lost ability to operate. This is the only explanation why there was not a single attempt to establish communication to report the emergency situation on board,” said Smirnov.

Kogalymavia’s deputy general director for engineering, Andrei Averyanov, said a 2001 incident when the plane’s tail section struck the tarmac on landing was fully repaired and could not have been a factor in the crash.

He said the aircraft’s engines had undergone routine inspection in Moscow on Oct. 26 which found no problems and he said in the five flights before the crash, the crew recorded no technical problems in the aircraft’s log book.

Oksana Golovina, a representative of the holding company that controls Kogalymavia, told the news conference the airline had experienced no financial problems which could have influenced flight safety.